808 State: Blueprint reviews

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Re: Best of 808 (Blueprint)

Postby markus » 08 Sep 2011 22:28

From http://www.thecmuwebsite.com/article/al ... -zttsalvo/ :
Friday September 2nd, 2011 11:50
Album review: 808 State – Blueprint (ZTT/Salvo)

808 State

The title of this retrospective is particularly prescient, since 808 State are true pioneers. It’s hard to recall any other dance album from 1989, let alone one as good as the Manc group’s ‘Ninety’. But that’s not even the start of the story, with the techno and acid sounds of the preceding ‘New Build’ and ‘Quadrastate’ EPs being hugely innovative and influential.

Whereas their last compilation in 1998 was a fairly straightforward ZTT-era Greatest Hits, this collection revisits tracks both pre and post that era, positioning itself as a “Greatest Bits” rather than just the singles. Being just a one CD affair, there’s inevitably plenty of essential stuff absent, but everything present is a masterclass in how to create compelling machine-made music full of character and humanity.

‘Pacific State’ remains an impossibly seminal track but the likes of ‘Nephatiti’ and ‘Plan 9′ prove that they could consistently deliver soulful electronica, whilst elsewhere the collaborations with Björk, James Dean Bradfield and Guy Garvey reveal a group with a mindset that stretches far beyond just club culture.

The quotes in the accompanying sleevenotes reveal the high esteem 808 State are held in by their techno peers; quite right too – ‘Blueprint’ amply demonstrates a fearless sonic adventurism with music that has not dated, but actually aged gracefully. MS
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Re: Best of 808 (Blueprint)

Postby markus » 09 Sep 2011 16:37

Nice review, littered with mistakes, but positive:

http://www.allgigs.co.uk/view/review/58 ... eview.html

Blueprint - 808 State Album Review
808 State
808 State
Album Review

Dance music has had a rum deal with regards to respectful reissues, or even safe passage of some of its back-catalogue to any form of CD or download at all. Many record-labels folded prematurely, leaving licensing in mid-air, while other artists and imprints from the past 25 years either lost the tapes in a drug-crazed blitz, or just haven't been fagged to 'digitally remaster' their treasured recordings.

Thankfully, one of the most important, but often over-looked, champions of the British rave scene issued much of their output on a major-label. Warners distributed ZTT back in the 'daze' and 808 State just happened to be signed to them. Earlier works such as "Quadrostate" and "Newbuild" appeared in the US on Tommy Boy, so that's another batch saved from the midst of the bong. Rephlex have more recently handled their reworked acid 12" series (one is featured here), so it's all systems go for a fully-blown greatest hits, yes?

Nope! "Blueprint" is far more than that - this is 808 State presented in various forms, be they raw, remixed, rough or ready, rare or not-so-rare. It makes for engaging listening. Key tracks such as "Pacific", "In Yer Face" and "Cubik" turn up in buffed up versions, or in the case of the latter, a rare Monkey Mafia refix that is so contemporary, SBTRKT and the wonky-funky crowd must be cowering in their boots at such limb-twitching beauty.

The lesser-known choices include one of those 'acid' workings, "Flow Coma" given a cranium-felching twist by Aphex Twin, a tweaked revisit of "Nimbus" and a straight revisit of "Nephatiti" and "Spanish Ice" from the 1991 album, "ex:el". Collaborations feature Guy Garvey, Brian Eno & James Dean Bradfield and Bjork, plus there is a welter of unreleased bangers such as the 'desk mix' of maligned single, "Timebomb".

Little else needs to be said except that the booklet and concept, curated by Ian Peel (as with the 808 State reissues a couple of years ago), gleams a little more with written prose from aficionado Paul Hartnoll (it must be time for some Orbital reissues!) and ZTT geek behemoth Paul Morley. Rarities have rarely sounded so riveting.
Paul Pledger
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Re: Best of 808 (Blueprint)

Postby markus » 10 Sep 2011 20:37

Another review:

808 State
BLUEPRINT
SALVO / ZTT 5.9.11
http://www.vanguard-online.co.uk/1109A808.htm

Lets start with the obvious.
808 State are named for the Roland 808 drum machine. Beloved of electronic musicians in the eighties, the 808 came to define a decade. It’s over twenty years since the band recorded Pacific State and this is a career retrospective.

Flow Coma isn’t a fair starter – not a historical intro – it’s been ripped up to date and into outer space with the slash cut burps and busy antics of Aphex Twin. Fun though. Pacific State is the one you’ll know as the real start – the first single to go really big. Jumping on the recently invented Acid House bandwagon, it became one of the defining sounds, mixing jazzy beats with drum machines and repetitive keyboard riffs. In Yer Face takes the sound and amplifies it. Cubik gets remixed into a slightly annoying artefact that’d be a right laugh once, on a dance floor, but irritating after a few listens. What you hear over the early original tracks is an English band trying to play Electro (like Afrika Bambaataa’s Planet Rock), getting it a little off and inventing Rave – the genre so successful that Thatcher’s government legislated against it. That’s right; a government was so afeared of people partying in fields that they banned the unlicensed playing of “music characterised by repetitive beats”. Timebomb is a more authentic document of the time. Awesome stuff for getting ripped to your tits and dancing to.

Unusually, 808 State became an albums band as well as a singles band, seeking a coherent core to each slab of vinyl that broke with the established norm of the only dance albums being compilations. Keeping one sound and mood through the album happened to keep the synapses happy when punters were on MDMA. Change does rather ruffle your feathers when you’re on certain psychedelics.

As dance ossified into genres you weren’t supposed to break, 808 believed they were stretching the limits but I’m not entirely convinced. It’s more that they didn’t care what label people put on them. And well they might not – they were playing live shows in arenas and stacking them in. The rest of the packed album is solid and by the end you’ll see they had laid the foundations of Techno. Along the way they’d clocked up an interesting collaboration with an Icelandic Indie singer from The Sugarcubes – pre-solo career. She gets all Latin and it grooves very nicely. Nicky Wire pops in for Lopez – with a widescreen-effect mix from Brian Eno. Two new tracks are appended – one with that annoying Bounce beat. It would have made an interesting journey to hear the original tracks through the years but this approach makes for a more interesting listen and will keep the bass bins in your car happy (whaddya mean you’ve not got any…….).

Ross McGibbon
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Re: Best of 808 (Blueprint)

Postby Mark » 10 Sep 2011 22:39

HMV Description;

Arriving almost a decade too early to capitalize on the mid-'90s dance boom which saw the Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, and Underworld conquer the charts as well as the underground rave scene, Manchester outfit 808 State may not be a household name, but without their pioneering fusion of acid-house, ambient techno, and pulsing breakbeats, it's unlikely that the likes of "Firestarter," "Block Rockin' Beats," or "Born Slippy" would have ever seen the light of day. Released 13 years after their last compilation, Blueprint, Best Of shows just how far ahead of their time they were, with electro maverick Aphex Twin doffing his cap to the influence they had on his career with a remix of "Flow Coma," contributions from Björk ("Qmart"), and the Manics' James Dean Bradfield ("Lopez") inventing the whole guest indie vocalist-does-dance music shtick which has since become the norm, and the blissed-out sax-led "Pacific State," still sounding as euphoric 20 years after it became one of illegal warehouse culture's most iconic hits. With only one album (2003's Outpost Transmission) recorded in the intervening years, some might question the necessity of a new collection. Although it shares nine of its seventeen songs with its predecessor, this career-spanning set is no cynical cash-in, thanks to a treasure trove of obscure remixes, "revisited" versions, and a brand new composition, "Spanish Ice," which proves that Graham Massey, the only original member left, has lost none of his knob-twiddling magic. The tracks that have been tinkered with are more subtle reworkings than radical overhaulings, with only Monkey Mafia's dancehall-tinged treatment of Top Ten hit "Cubik" providing any notable difference, but it's a testament to the band's innovative sound that the majority of cuts still sound fresh whether they've been left intact or not. Elsewhere, there are appearances from Elbow's Guy Garvey on the Scott Walker-esque "Lemonsoul," Simian on the slightly more mellow remix of "606," and legendary producer Trevor Horn on the radio edit of "Plan 9," an inclusion from their 1989 Quadrastate EP ("Firecracker"), a mash-up of a rarity previously only available on the Blue Bell Records compilation, Hear You Soon ("Metaluna"), and 1988 debut Newbuild album track, "Compulsion." There are a few notable omissions, particularly the two hits with British rapper MC Tunes and the Top 20 single, "One in Ten," but nevertheless, Best Of is still an appropriately titled collection which shows that where 808 State led, others followed. ¯ Jon O'Brien
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Re: Best of 808 (Blueprint)

Postby markus » 11 Sep 2011 10:05

The above review by Jon O'Brien from http://hmv.com/hmvweb/displayProductDet ... sku=197519 is the best-researched and knowledgeable review I've read so far, the guy has to be a fan!
Used here too: http://www.allmusic.com/album/blueprint ... 768/review
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Re: Best of 808 State (Blueprint)

Postby markus » 13 Sep 2011 11:20

Some small errors in this one, but very positive review:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/rg5c
BBC Review

Buzzing career overview from Manchester’s own wizards of wibbly.

Rob Hughes 2011-09-12

It’s impossible to underplay the importance of 808 State. Arriving at a time when acid house was starting to infiltrate the hipper enclaves of UK clubland, the original trio of Graham Massey, Martin Price and Gerald Simpson took the hard sound of Chicago house and lashed it to industrial grooves and experimental music. Late-80s floor-fillers like Flow Coma and Pacific State were hugely influential on a new generation of techno-heads, chief among them Aphex Twin, Autechre and Orbital.

Indeed, it’s Aphex Twin’s 2001 remix of Flow Coma that kicks off this terrific retrospective. A star-stuffed one it is too, including collaborations with Brian Eno, Björk, Simian, James Dean Bradfield, Guy Garvey and onetime ZTT labelmate, Trevor Horn. What’s particularly fascinating is just how far ahead of the curve 808 State clearly were. Sharp-edged rave classics like Cübik and In Yer Face pre-date the whole superstar DJ/superclub boom of the 90s. But by the time The Chemical Brothers and Cream had become steady fixtures on the new dance scene, 808 State were already moving away from the kinetic thump of techno-funk and were investing the music with more tranquil, ambient tones. Theirs was music for both mind and feet, highlighted here by the luminous Björk set-to, Qmart. And those still lamenting the demise of 90s yoof-TV Friday-nighter The Word (look, you never know) will be buoyed by the appearance of Olympic, its theme tune.

The latter is one of several exclusive (re)mixes on this set. Others given a fresh facelift are Cübik (Monkey Mafia), Plan 9 (Trevor Horn) and the "808 tape mix" of the wonderful Timebomb. The weird’n’glitchy stuff still sounds great (especially a revamped 606, with Simian) but Guy Garvey’s turn on Lemonsoul proves they were always capable of delivering a swoonsome mood piece. Avid followers will be especially intrigued by two spanking new arrivals: Spanish Ice and Metaluna. The latter brings everything around full circle by smartly segueing into Compulsion, the closing track on 1988 debut LP Newbuild.

It’s testament to 808 State’s lasting excellence that there’s no room here for Lift, Open Your Mind or Ooops. Nor is there space for hi-calibre guests like Ian McCulloch, Bernard Sumner or Lou Rhodes. "808 State will return," claim the liner notes. In the meantime this’ll do very nicely.
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Re: Best of 808 State (Blueprint)

Postby markus » 15 Sep 2011 13:44

Another nice review, from:
http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/158 ... Reviews%29

808 State
Blueprint: The Best of 808 State
Salvo; 2011
By Jess Harvell; September 15, 2011
7.5
Artists:

808 State

Find it at:

Insound Vinyl
eMusic
Amazon MP3 & CD

In the late 1980s, 808 State asked themselves a couple of important questions: Was it possible to get the masses to rise up and embrace instrumental beatscapes? Could a couple of guys with a couple of keyboards become a pop group without ever really writing pop songs? Should a house or techno act even bother releasing an album aimed at a general audience? There was no real evidence that the answer to any of these questions was "yes," but 808, along with a handful of other ambitious crossover types, persisted anyway. Thanks to a mixture of luck, timing, and skill, 808 actually succeeded. And more than an any other crossover 1990s dance act, they stayed true to both their club and avant-electronic roots. The career-spanning Blueprint proves that 808 did have a certain commercial instinct almost from the start. What's more surprising is how big they scored with the stuff on Blueprint that sounds the least commercial.

808 came up in the early days of British rave by making intense and dense compositions that represented club music at its furthest-out, anticipating the kind of abstract hardcore electronica that didn't quite exist just yet. It's a thrillingly manic and claustrophobic sound, enough so that it inspired more than a few future IDM tyros. On the other hand, it's unsurprising that the caustic acid maximalism of "Flow Coma" never charted. 808's next single, however, hit in the biggest possible way. Relaxing a bit, like rave as a whole for a brief second, they scored massively with the platonically placid "Pacific State". The tune that helped to enshrine both the saxophone and the birdcall as part of the softer side of dance music's vocabulary, "Pacific" still has enough of techno's antic bounce to make it seem like a great lost direction for pop, where hippie relaxation vibes and bright video game funk are not incompatible.

An accountant probably would have told them to ride their status as chill-out pioneers until it stopped being profitable, which could have lasted at least until Moby smothered the trend stone-dead with the success of Play. Instead 808 released a few charmingly clunky takes on hip-house that are left out on Blueprint. That certainly helps the collection's flow, even if it does underline why the group calls this their "greatest bits" rather than a complete overview. When they finally rebounded, creatively, it once again paid off commercially. "Pacific" and their Brit-rap adventures had clearly given them an appreciation for ideas of beauty and fun that conformed to 99 percent of humanity's. But they never quite lost their taste for the robots-in-meltdown fierceness of "Flow Coma". "Cubik" and "In Yer Face" were among the 808's biggest non-"Pacific" hits, but they were also among their rawest tunes. The difference is that the intensity now felt brash and joyful rather than hermetic and kinda creepy.

But the fact that one of 808's albums was called Gorgeous should give you an indication that their sympathies ultimately lay more with "Pacific State" than "In Yer Face". Gorgeousness as an end in itself sometimes led 808 to slick and forgettable tracks like "Plan 9", which has as much passion and inventiveness as the house-as-high-end-hotel-muzak they unfortunately helped inspire. But even "Plan 9" doesn't outstay its welcome. Early adopters of the "radio edit" approach to taking electronic dance into the mainstream, even 808's opulent ambient stuff almost always has an instrumental earworm to get you humming. So, in addition to being just damn listenable, front to back, Blueprint's also fascinating as a look at one group's answer to Brit dance culture's warring impulses in the 90s. 808's most memorable music is never split between opulent ambiance designed for the laid-back appreciation of connoisseurs and rugged slabs of computer madness to pump the adrenaline of young folks juiced on rave's novelty. The two are almost always mixed up into the same tunes, the wild beat constructions complimented by a real musical richness. That's probably why they've endured, while so many one-note singles from 808's peers have faded away.
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Re: 808 State: Blueprint reviews

Postby markus » 29 Sep 2011 17:32

Review from http://www.theplayground.co.uk/review/r ... ?revID=695

This is the first ever document of all eras of 808 State: from the seminally influential acid house releases on their own Creed label, to latterday collaborations with Guy Garvey and James Dean Bradfield. From their days as Haçienda DJs to headling the Manchester G-Mex, and touring the world with 'stadium rave'(at one point with an unknown Moby as support act).

Blueprint features the band's top 10 singles (including Pacific, Cübik, and In Yer Face), and their groundbreaking collaborations with Björk (1991's Qmart), Simian (2002's 606) and Brian Eno (1996's Lopez, with lyrics by Nicky Wire).

The whole thing kicks off with Aphex Twin's legendary remix of Flow Coma, one of the first ever 808 State tracks, which was released on Richard D. James' own Rephlex label as a 12" promo vinyl in the early 00s.

Other remixes – all exclusive to this set – come from Trevor Horn, Jon Carter/Monkey Mafia and the mysterious 808 Tape. Blueprint puts 808 State back on the map. Paul Hartnoll from Orbital writes the foreword to the CD's extensive booklet, which also features contributions from The Prodigy, Doughty, Moby, Simian and Future Sound of London. There's also an extensive archive interview with 808 State -- Graham Massey (Factory Records/Biting Tongues, Sisters of Transistors), Darren Partington and Andrew Barker -- by Paul Morley. Electronic instrument pioneers Roland have also pulled the original blueprints for the legendary TR-808 drum machine(from which the band took their name) out of their archives for the front cover and deluxe 'mini vinyl' packaging.

Two brand new tracks close out the set: Spanish Ice and Metaluna, which segues back into one of the band's first acid house hits, Compulsion, bringing the whole story full circle. A brace of tracks have been completely re-recorded, revisited and updated by the band themselves, and they have even included the production mix of Olympic a/k/a the theme for The Word.

This is 808 State, back to the future, across the 80s, 90s, 00s and 10s.
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Re: 808 State: Blueprint reviews

Postby markus » 29 Sep 2011 17:33

Review from http://www.indiependude.com/2011/09/808 ... tunes.html

If you know anything about Dance music or House music or if you journeyed anywhere near Manchester in the late 80s to early 90s then you already know that 808 State are the Dance DJ House Music Kings (I just made that up.) They have produced some of the most anthemic Dance / House tracks out there as well as writing and producing for numerous other artists.

BLUEPRINT is titled as "The Best of 808 State" and it is completely excellent, but there is no way that you could put the best of 808 State on a 17 track album. However. If you know 808 State then this is an excellent addition. If you don't know them then this is an excellent starting point.

Go and buy it TODAY!!
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Re: 808 State: Blueprint reviews

Postby markus » 29 Sep 2011 20:45

Review from http://www.thenatter.co.uk/2011/09/808- ... he-future/

808 State go back to the future
September 22, 2011

808 State

In a week when one old Manchester favourite, Section 25, revealed they were back with a new record, another of the city’s legendary bands has released its own greatest hits collection.

‘Blueprint’ puts 808 State back on the map. Paul Hartnoll from Orbital writes the foreword to the CD’s extensive booklet, which also features contributions from The Prodigy, Doughty, Moby, Simian and Future Sound of London – all bands who owe a massive debt to the Manchester trio.

There’s also an extensive archive interview with the band – Graham Massey, Darren Partington and Andrew Barker – by Paul Morley who signed 808 State – named after the Roland drum machine – to his ZTT label.

The Guardian said: “808 State mapped out the future of club music, utilising techno, ambient and rock to usher in the E-fuelled indie-dance alliance.”

At the height of chart success and the Madchester era, 808 celebrated with a massive hometown gig filling the G-Mex stadium with the biggest PA system ever assembled.

But the greatest hits album doesn’t mean the band have retired to their respective sheds to twiddle with their (synthesizer) knobs.

808 State still play festivals, with a full live band including bass, drums, percussion and a mountain of electronics; recent highlights including Primavera in Barcelona, Creamfields in Argentina, Bestival on the Isle of Wight and the Wire Festival at the Yokohama Stadium Japan.

Andrew Barker and Darren Partington also regularly perform as DJs, and Graham Massey produces and performs with his 28-piece big band Toolshed, art-house organ-group Sisters of Transistors, or solo electronica outlet Massonix.

Although there are a few new tracks on the album, it is slightly ironic that for many older Hacienda-goers, 808 State – at the time so futuristic and cutting edge – will now evoke feelings of nostalgia.
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Re: 808 State: Blueprint reviews

Postby markus » 29 Sep 2011 20:51

Review from http://www.totalmusicmagazine.com/albumreviews.htm

808 State
Blueprint (Salvo/ZTT)

808 StatePart of the ZTT Elements reissue series this Best of sidesteps the standard ‘bung the singles on with some recently discovered tape which should have remained on the recording studio floor' by surrounding classics like 'Pacific State', the mighty 'In Yer face' and 'Cübik' by rare remixes (the Aphex Twin take on 'Flow Coma' is just plain mental) and cherry picked collaborations with the likes of Björk and Guy Garvey. The State are often overlooked when dance history is discussed, which is a criminal shame as they were genuine pioneers, so if you have an 808 State gap in your collection this will fill it very nicely indeed.
Drew Bass
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Re: 808 State: Blueprint reviews

Postby markus » 29 Sep 2011 20:53

From http://www.yourmusicradar.com/breaking- ... print.html

808 State: Blueprint
by on Sep 19, 2011 • 6:00 am
Zang Tuum Tumb and Salvo Music are proud to present Blueprint, the definitive career overview of one of the UK’s most important, pioneering and influential electronic groups: 808 State.

This is the first ever document of all eras of 808 State: from the seminally influential acid house releases on their own Creed label, to latterday collaborations with Guy Garvey and James Dean Bradfield. From their days as Haçienda DJs to headling the Manchester G-Mex, and touring the world with ‘stadium rave’ (at one point with an unknown Moby as support act).

Blueprint features the band’s top 10 singles (including Pacific, Cübik, and In Yer Face), and their groundbreaking collaborations with Björk (1991′s Qmart), Simian (2002′s 606) and Brian Eno (1996′s Lopez, with lyrics by Nicky Wire).

The whole thing kicks off with Aphex Twin‘s legendary remix of Flow Coma, one of the first ever 808 State tracks, which was released on Richard D. James‘ own Rephlex label as a 12″ promo vinyl in the early 00s.

Other remixes – all exclusive to this set – come from Trevor Horn, Jon Carter/Monkey Mafia and the mysterious 808 Tape.

Blueprint puts 808 State back on the map. Paul Hartnoll from Orbital writes the foreword to the CD’s extensive booklet, which also features contributions from The Prodigy, Doughty, Moby, Simian and Future Sound of London. There’s also an extensive archive interview with 808 State — Graham Massey (Factory Records/Biting Tongues, Sisters of Transistors), Darren Partington and Andrew Barker — by Paul Morley. Electronic instrument pioneers Roland have also pulled the original blueprints for the legendary TR-808 drum machine (from which the band took their name) out of their archives for the front cover and deluxe ‘mini vinyl’ packaging.

Two brand new tracks close out the set: Spanish Ice and Metaluna, which segues back into one of the band’s first acid house hits, Compulsion, bringing the whole story full circle. A brace of tracks have been completely re-recorded, revisited and updated by the band themselves, and they have even included the production mix of Olympic a/k/a the theme for The Word.

This is 808 State, back to the future, across the 80′s, 90′s, 00′s and 10′s.

We are looking forward to their extensive world tour and hope that Melbourne, Australia is included on that list as we can’t wait to catch them do a set of this material.

Check them out at the official website and get this mighty compilation on order asap.
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Re: 808 State: Blueprint reviews

Postby markus » 29 Sep 2011 20:55

Not every day that 808 State are in the Financial Times...
From http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/a51a1390 ... z1YJ9Qw45W


September 17, 2011 1:17 am
808 State: Blueprint

By Ludovic Hunter-Tilney
This handsomely designed compilation is a reminder of the Manchester dance music pioneers’ elasticity

This handsomely designed 808 State compilation is a reminder of the Manchester dance music pioneers’ elasticity, from ambient exotica of “Pacific State” and brutal techno of “Timebomb” to collaborations with Björk and Elbow’s Guy Garvey. There are several first-rate remixes too, including Aphex Twin’s pulverising version of “Flow Coma” and Monkey Mafia’s look back at chunky acid house of “Cübik”.

808 State

Blueprint

(ZTT/Union Square)

[4 stars]
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Re: 808 State: Blueprint reviews

Postby markus » 30 Sep 2011 16:04

A really nice review, shame that the author doesn't realise that most albums have been re-released. I see Graham has dissed him for lack of research on Facebook ;)
http://soundblab.com/content/content/view/id/4183

808 State
Blueprint
Salvo
Released: Monday 19 September 2011
Reviewed by
Niall O'Conghaile
8 / 10

Ah, raving! Those were the days… Sit back and relax, kiddies, as I fill you in on what a glorious era this was for music and culture. The late 80s and early 90s were a heady time of new technology, social advancement and rapidly changing fashions in clothes, art and music. The previous generations nihilism and greed gave way to something a bit softer, something that harked back to an earlier time; peace, love and unity were in the air. It was exciting - youth still had the possibility of controlling their own future, and from their vantage point back then the future looked bright. We would shed the inhibitions drilled into us by society and we would all come together under the influence of new music and new drugs, doing away with caste and creed.

808 State were one of the prime movers in the early British dance scene, and revisiting their work on the new 'best of' collection Blueprint shows that while the sounds themselves may have dated, the music has lost none of its charm. It's important to remember that 808 State were always a cut above your average rave-monkey act, coming from a Manchester post-punk background and possessing as they did genuine musical talents. New technology had proliferated hugely, making it easier than ever to make dance music, particularly the kind of formal, repetitive strains becoming known back then as 'European techno'.

But, as fun as this kind of music may have been were, you just couldn't imagine an act like, say, Altern-8 whipping off the face masks, busting out a tenor saxophone and deliver a smooth-vibes chill out classic like 'Pacific State'. This was 808 State's first crossover hit and it had a huge impact. It showed that dance music could be funky and repetitive, which we all knew, but it was also showed it could be calm, intricate and beautiful. It was a massive progressions for dance music and paved the way for the likes of Future Sound of London and The Orb, both brilliant bands. Yeah, it also gave rise to Guru Josh, but we can let that one slide I reckon.

Testament to the talent of 808 State is the calibre of guest they can count on to work with or be remixed by. Björk, Brian Eno, Aphex Twin, The Manics' James Dean Bradfield, Guy Garvey of Elbow and major league producer Trevor Horn tend not to work with just any Johnny-come-lately rave band in a Vicks-filled face mask, but they're all correct and present on Blueprint. Of all the guest vocalists, it's Bradfield who comes out the best, making 'Lopez' an actual tune your milkman could whistle, and elevating the gorgeous slide guitar backing up to the classic single status of 'Pacific State'. On 'Qmart' Björk does her warbly Björk-y thing, but as this was 1991 and she had yet to quit the Sugarcubes, it's fairly safe to say she was still finding her feet.

Of the remixers, it's Aphex Twin who shines the most, turning album opener 'Flow Coma' into a acid-flecked breakbeat monster. I take it this was a track Aphex actually listened to and took elements from before slapping on the tag 'AFX Remix' (google "Lemonheads Aphex remix" if you don't know what I'm talking about). The Word Production remix of 'Olympic' from 808's 1991 album ex:el is great (even if it IS the theme from that dodgy 'yoof' TV classic The Word) but it strangely nicks the riff from another 808 single. That would be 'In Yer Face'. which is the quintessential 808 State track in my opinion, and one of the best rave tracks of all time, hands down. It's hard, it's nasty, it's funky and it's all tinged with a sense of angry melancholy best surmised by the doomy voice-over on the intro. Unfortunately 'In Yer Face' is not included on Blueprint in its original form, which is a real shame.

Instead we get 'In Yer Face (Revisited)' and the aforementioned 'Olympic (Word Production Mix)' which are not bad, just not as good. Both have enough elements of the original to make you want to hear it, while lacking the original's knock-out power. The intro to 'In Yer Face', with its monologue about generational conflict and pollution, is perhaps the most iconic musical moment of the whole rave era.

It's funny looking back now and thinking about the genuine threat the police felt from the rave scene. Anyone who has ever taken a pill can tell you it's not exactly a violent or threatening experience. But then go and watch any old footage of outdoor raves on YouTube and you can begin to understand. Raving really was a social phenomena - an unlicensed, unregulated party in a field could attract anywhere up to 25,000 people, a leader-less congregation who thought and felt the same and who came together to experience new music as a new drug experiences. It was an organic happening, an idea seeded by a few people which spread across the country and then the world. It wasn't a marketing gimmick, the were no corporate tie-ins, there was no social media to gain instant access to the party or to track people's whereabouts and tastes - it's no wonder the police were worried. But what had they to be worried about? Was raving so much a threat to the people involved or adjacent or more a threat to established hierarchies and modes of living? I'm not sure really, but whatever 'rave' was, 808 State played a fundamental, integral part.

Much of the material on Blueprint is different from its original form, making this an album that even the die-hard 808 State fan should own, with four of the tracks being 'revisited' and nine out of the total 17 tracks being previously unreleased. Which I guess makes this album not actually a greatest hits compilation, but a collection of rarities? The album itself is sub-titled "Greatest Bits, from 1998 to the present day". which makes me wonder when the actual Greatest Hits of 808 State album is going to arrive, or the deluxe, remastered and expanded editions of Newbuild, 90 and ex:el are going to be released. Because they should. In the meantime, if you need an introduction to this influential and under-rated act then look no further. Like raving itself, it may seem dated from our 20 year vantage point, but let yourself go, maaan, just feel the vibes, yeah, and get on one with a great album from a brilliant band.

8.08/10 (of course)
markus
 
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Re: 808 State: Blueprint reviews

Postby markus » 03 Oct 2011 19:01

Nice review from http://www.thisisbooksmusic.com/2011/10 ... blueprint/ :

The CD cover acknowledges this isn’t exactly a greatest hits album, but more a “greatest bits” covering music from 1988 to the present day, and even that is putting it lightly. Can a label, even the great ZTT empire, actually fit in all of 808 State‘s greatest bits onto one compact disc? Maybe that’s not the point.

The point here is to highlight some of 808 State’s great moments in the last 23 years, and that’s scary in itself. What you get on here is their music, a mixture of genuine hits, key album tracks, alternate takes, remixes both old and new, and perhaps a few things you’ve never heard before. It wasn’t too cocky for them to call this album Blueprint (ZTT/Salvo), for they have been influenced by many before them. When 808 State started making their impact, they did it out of a love for the TR-808 drum machine, and thus their music was a combination of a multitude of keyboard and synthesizers, mixed in with beats that were sourced from many places, combined to make music where its source and inspiration didn’t matter, you just felt the search to get down and dance. Hearing Aphex Twin‘s remix of “Flow Coma” makes it sound like the Chemical Brothers had existed back then. To put it bluntly, if electronic music sounded robotic and musicians started to create sound as if there were voices in those bloops and bleeps, then it was those voices that were going to come out of the machine, create the music and get funky in the process. The bulk of who they are originated from the different styles of dance music from Chicago and Detroit, even though up until that point had never been in the United States. That love of the perceived abandoned cold grooves in the mid-west was given warmth when embraced, which allowed the homegrown music to be reawakened and taken worldwide, and this album celebrates the reawakening and the travels the group have been able to go on.

Hearing “Pacific” sounds as fresh as I remembered when I first heard it, what I loved was that the main synth line was at a slow tempo, and slowly you had beats that were done at double time, along with sounds that were faster and more complex. It was very British at the time, and yet rooted in the music of Chicago and Detroit. Hearing “In Yer Face”, “Timebomb”, “Qmart”, and “Cobra Bora” will remind people how they could occasionally be political without ever actually saying a word, and when it came to creating pop masterpieces, they could do it with the help of outside vocalists, but still do it to bring people into their State.

If one were to ask for some 808 State suggestions, immediately point to Blueprint as a primer, because that’s what it was made for, and more importantly it works. While it has some of their hits and more celebrated tracks, it doesn’t have all of the hits. No “One In Ten”, no “10 X 10″, not even “Oops” is here, but if Blueprint can be the reason more people are turned on by their music, they’ll eventually get there. In the words of background vocalists on a Frankie Goes To Hollywood album, this is how we get there.
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